Organizers hold annual 'Christmas You Missed' event for military families

500 military families expected to participate

SAN DIEGO - More than 500 members of military families separated by deployment during the last holiday season got a chance to make up for lost time Monday at the seventh annual "Christmas You Missed."

Organizers transformed the Murphy Canyon Youth Center into a winter wonderland and recreated a holiday morning for about 150 service members and their families, complete with falling snow, Christmas carols and an appearance from Santa Claus.

More than 75 commands from six military installations were represented at the event, according to event hosts, the Armed Services YMCA San Diego.

"At the ASYMCA, we know how difficult it can be for military families to spend the holidays apart -- so seven years ago, we decided to bring it to them in June," Executive Director and retired Navy Capt. Paul Steffens said. "This is our collective opportunity to give a heartfelt `thank you' to those brave men, women and families who serve us every day."

Military families donned holiday outfits or pajamas for a walk through falling snow and served a hot breakfast, accompanied by costumed carolers, dancers and music from family-friendly band Hullabaloo and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band. They also passed by red Marine Humvees, live Christmas trees and poinsettias

The event also featured gingerbread cookie decorating, face painting, Christmas crafts, outdoor bowling, bounce houses and raffles, according to organizers.

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